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Saturday 14th August, 2021

Hi

Living walls,  Green barriers or simply a hedge
Its pretty hard to have a hedge or a living wall without some work or the regular maintenance of trimming the top and sides twice a year.. and its pretty difficult to find a plant that stops growing at 1.5 metres or a desired height. Many plants that are used for creating a green barrier, if not trimmed regularly will mature out into a small tree and defoliate ( lose their leaves) at the base which kind of defeats the purpose.. Personally I love the look of  a perfectly manicured hedge with an ultra straight top and gently sloping sides to a slightly wider base.. particularly if it is offset with some groupings of specimen trees.
I also think that the maintenance of a hedge is pretty straight forward, like cut the top and the sides.  I recommend doing this twice a year, after each growth flush and then its an easy job.. well as easy as its gets!  Some leave it for an annual haircut and then its so much woodier and much more to clean up. I am also of the opinion that its much more difficult to keep a informal planting and perhaps even takes more skill than keeping a straight forward hedge.
A smaller growing plant is easier to keep to a shorter hedge and you will need to choose a larger growing choice for a taller hedge. Not all plants love being constantly trimmed but there are others that do and these make for some of the best choices as they regenerate well and have a much longer lifespan.
If you go for a more informal option of what I would call an informal border planting, then this is probably much more difficult to manage to maintain privacy at a lower level. Initially when planting this style the trees used will be bushy but will mature and lose their lower foliage after say 5 to 7 years and its then, what do you plant to fill that space.. This is made more difficult in that the original planting will have helped itself to most of the available food and water. These sort of plantings are much harder to recreate more understory, though there are plants that will do the trick but it may just take some time.
Its still pretty moist, damp, wet out there and so still perfect for a mass planting project, like a hedge.. Always do a good job of the setup and maintenance and you will definitely reap the desired end result. I suggest creating a garden like bed of around 50 to 70 cm wide and then mulch after planting to keep weed free. Spacing is a question I often get asked and rule of thumb is half the mature hedge height  or for a  1.2 to 1.5 metre high hedge some where from 70cm to 100 cm apart.. Of course small hedges around gardens will be at 20cm to 30cm apart.
There are still some pretty good choices available for hedging and few wouldn't not know Photinia Red robin with its brilliant red new leaves, that are its claim to fame. Once trimmed will produce a bright red hedge that fades to green, trim again and again to get the colour impact. Several great grades to get planting with at the nursery these are bushy compact plants at $14.99 or  $19.99
Some of the newbies on the block are Podocarpus gracilor belongs to the Totara family but is way sexier with contemporary looking foliage which is guite a cool green and lacy in form.   Podocarpus will trim into quite a dense hedge or standardise as well and will have a long life span.  The other quite new plant is Viburnum Dense fence with an attractive olive green foliage and promises to be a good green barrier for the home gardener.
I can't go past Camellias as these are robust and long term as a hedge and are tolerant of most positions including full sun even though they are technically a shade plant.  Silver column is  a sasanqua hybrid or cross and is more upright in form with an attractive deep green leaves and a simple single white flower. Early pearly is a popular choice with  formal double white flowers .. Silver dollar is a fav with me ... I like its white informal flowers and classic green leaf. Paradise Blush is another one of the newer Paradise sasanqua series with blush pink on the outer edges of its petals.
Ang says not to forget to mention that we still have a nice small grade of Setsugekka @ $16.99 , which is another traditional form with large single white flowers... good for the bees and Tuis. 
Whats Just arrived 
Leucadendrons or cone bushes are native to South Africa and belong to the Proteaceae family and so like a sunny spot and  are generally tolerant of poorer soils that are well drained. On the whole they don't need feeding but if you do stay away from those ferts with high phosphorus content.  Popular as a cut flowers or just extra colour in the garden,  these can make a great show.. Prune the flowers off so that the bush stays compact and doesn't become straggly.. as with many different genus and species there are usually many great garden cultivars of different sizes shapers and colours.
Check out Jack Harre with erect branches are topped off with  creamy bracts tipped bright red flowers in winter.  Starburst,  red star like flowers  bear yellow male flowers in late Winter.  Inca gold  Green-gold foliage topped off with tulip shaped golden flower bracts that tipped with crimson in winter.  Julie has stems of colourful bracts in a warm creamy yellow shade flushed with red.  
Delphiniums .. We all love these queens of the perennials and now is the time to plant these beauties... despite the gentle and soft appearance of the plants, they have the ability to push through the snow but are adored by the rasping tongues of our ravenous molluscs.  Collect from the nursery as we do have trouble packaging these suitable enough to courier. If you have these already in the garden then do put slug bait out as the snails will sniff them out before you do. This is one of the most common reasons why  Delphs don't last into their second and third years.
Pieris ... Lily of the Valley shrubs  are looking great coming up to flower right now .. A great dappled light plant that also seems to also do well in more full sun.. Lily of the valley shrubs have a lot going for them with their classic lily of the valley like flowers hence the common name and many have bright red new foliage that ages to green..  Again there are quite a few cultivars from the pure white of PurityChristmas cheer with rose pink flowers or even Valentine  that has dark pink flowers. Check them out as a great addition to a shrubbery.
The days are getting much longer and hopefully a fine weekend is on the cards to get all those chores done in the garden like the lawns.. Its almost time to think about feeding the roses, fruit trees and the like as the buds are now starting to plump in earnest.  What ever the plans,
Have a fab weekend 
Cheers Lloyd, Tony and the Wairere team

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826 Gordonton Road, R D 1, Hamilton 3281 Ph: (07) 824 3430 Email: